'If the minister does not resign, then it will be the darkest incident of Indian democracy where power prevailed over the people.'
The tragic incident in Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3 that led to the deaths of eight people has electrified the politics of Uttar Pradesh just months ahead of the assembly elections.
Union Minister of State of Home Ajay Mishra's son Ashish has been accused of mowing down peaceful protestors with his SUV.
The minister, on the other hand, has denied that his son was driving the vehicle, while Ashish, in an interview, said he sped up the vehicle to 'save his life' as angry protesters were throwing stones at it.
Several videos have come out giving different versions of the incident.
Rediff.com's Syed Firdaus Ashraf spoke to Saif Ali Naqvi, general secretary of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee, who contested the 2017 assembly election from Palia in Lakhimpur Kheri, to know more about the incident.
"The person driving the car was killing at will. They had huge bamboos stuck tied to both sides of the car so that anyone walking besides it also gets mowed down. It was planned murder," alleges Naqvi.
What happened in Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3?
The protests on that day were a reaction to Ajay Mishra's remarks mocking the farmers' agitation.
During a meeting on September 26, Mishra had (allegedly) threatened farmers, stating that they should know what his background was before he became an MP.
Consequently, his son, Ashish Mishra, mowed down five farmers when they were peacefully protesting against this MP, on the pretext that he was rushing to pick up Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya for an event.
What kind of background was Minister Mishra talking about?
His election affidavit (external link) says it all.
He has multiple criminal cases against him, under serious charges like murder, attempt to murder, land grabbing and smuggling.
Before he joined politics, people complained against his activities for years.
Can you tell us what happened after the farmers were run over by the SUV?
Farmers were exercising their democratic right by showing black flags and protesting peacefully against the three farm laws.
This ghastly incident happened at Balbirpur, which is the minister's native village in Nighasan (assembly constituency).
The minister says his son was not driving the car, and that one Jaiswal was at the wheel.
Well, that's what he is saying.
The incident happened four days ago and not a single person has been arrested so far.
The minister has not even offered to resign from his post.
Is there any proof that his son was driving the vehicle? The Bharatiya Janata Party has released a video that purports to show he was not driving.
In an interview to Aaj Tak, he (Ashish Mishra) confessed that he was driving the car and sped to 'save his life'.
He said this voluntarily.
There were two vehicles, one Mahindra Thar and a Toyota Fortuner.
It was a massacre which led to violence in the aftermath.
The BJP says the windshield of the car was broken as people pelted stones at it. Therefore, they were trying to escape the crowd and save their lives.
It is like Akira Kurosawa's film Rashomon where there are many versions of one incident and you don't know which one is true.
The car's windshield was not broken.
And even if it was, it does not mean that the car behind it, a Toyota Fortuner, should also speed up, running over people.
If you see the video in slow motion, you will find that the windshields of the cars were intact.
The person driving the car was killing at will. And they had huge bamboos tied to both sides of the car so that anyone walking besides it also gets mowed down.
It was planned murder.
So, the farmers did not attack the car?
If you see the video, you will find that the farmers were walking peacefully.
They were walking slowly and the cars were coming from behind.
If you are attacking the car, then you will not walk in front of it.
This entire argument that the cars were attacked is a web of lies by spun by the minister. But he has been caught out now.
Now, he has to resign and if he doesn't, then we will do satyagraha.
You said the minister's son admitted in an interview to Aaj Tak that he was driving the car. But now he has gone back on his statement.
They have been changing statements after new videos came up.
If a farmer tills someone else's field without permission, he gets arrested. But why, even after four days, has no one been arrested for such a heinous crime?
Why has the minister's son been given such a long rope?
Even foreign television channels like the BBC and CNN are raising questions over a minority being targeted by the minister and his son.
You mean the Sikh community?
Most of the farmers protesting are in solidarity with their brothers in Punjab.
The BJP's anti-minority stance has come to light. Our stand is that we will raise this issue at the United Nations and with the international media.
This is a mockery of justice. Justice is being denied to farmers.
BJP workers were also lynched.
The violence happened in the aftermath.
Prima facie, the BJP has to understand why are they so drunk on power that they mowed down farmers.
One of the cars was registered in the name of Minister Ajay Mishra. He needs to resign.
Moreover, this car had no insurance cover.
Why has Prime Minister Modi not issued a statement about it?
When (cricketer) Shikhar Dhawan underwent a surgery for his thumb injury, the PM tweeted wishing him luck.
But when so many farmers died, he is completely silent.
Till date, 700 farmers have died (during the protests).
The PM comes to Lucknow to attend a function when only 120 km away, farmers were mowed down by his minister's son.
Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait came here and compensation was given to the kin of the deceased.
Tikaitji did not come to solve the problem.
He came to heal the wounds. He demanded compensation for the families of the dead, which was their right.
He did not offer a solution. It was an arrangement where the government took the first step by giving compensation.
Is the life of a farmer worth (a mere) Rs 45 lakh and a government job?
All the local Congress leaders have been arrested, and for what? They arrested Priyanka Gandhiji without even a warrant.
It was like Section 144 (of the Criminal Procedure Code) was implemented only for the leaders of one particular party. Members of all other parties were allowed.
The BJP has alleged that Khalistanis were pelting stones at the vehicles.
There are no Khalistanis, but Khalis (pure) Hindustanis.
They were peaceful farmers protesting within the framework of the Constitution.
This agitation will go on till the minister's son is arrested.
If the minister does not resign, then it will be the darkest incident of Indian democracy where power prevailed over the people.
The BJP has become very unpopular in Uttar Pradesh today.
In 13 weeks, there will be elections in the state and you will see that the BJP will not only be wiped out from Lakhimpur Kheri, but from entire UP.
I don't think the discontent against the BJP is as widespread as you claim.
They could not provide oxygen when people were dying in UP. They could not provide hospital beds to people during the second Covid wave.
Inflation is skyrocketing. Petrol has touched Rs 100 and above in almost every district of UP.
GDP has gone down.
India is a young country, but there are no jobs.
Unemployment is at a 45-year high. National Crime Records Bureau data says crimes against Dalits are at an all-time high in UP.
If this is not enough (to vote the BJP out), then I don't know what will be.
The BJP won the 2017 assembly election with a huge margin.
They used blatant power and arm-twisting tactics, but they still got defeated in West Bengal.
You wait and see, the BJP will be defeated in UP as well.
This will be followed by their defeat in the Uttarakhand and Punjab elections.
Lakhimpur Kheri is going to be the BJP's Waterloo.